I had planned to offer some thoughts on the topic of Acceptance today, but that idea got too deep too fast. It seemed better to post something to help lighten our mood. But what?! Lighthearted topics don’t come easily in the current environment. The weather isn’t helping; it’s hotter than blazes, even here in the northeast. The world seems to be unraveling before our eyes as it tries to cope with a global pandemic and the resulting social and economic challenges. The virus is running the show, and not everyone is dealing with it as responsibly as one might hope. Continuing to read about it, write about it, and tear one’s hair out about it hasn’t been helping much. But choosing a topic that doesn’t feed our angst and yet doesn’t trivialize our situation isn’t an easy task.
Then I happened upon a Globe and Mail article I had saved from last summer entitled ‘It’s time to seek joy in missing out’. I had forgotten about it, safely hidden away in my stash of ‘possible blog ideas’. I had also completely forgotten about the acronyms FOMO (fear of missing out, which apparently is what most people relate to) and JOMO (joy of missing out) described in the article. When my younger son proclaimed back in April that as an introvert he was embracing JOMO during this time of isolating at home, he had to explain it to me. There can indeed be joy in missing out, especially for those of us who often crave some alone time.
It was the phrase “seeking joy” in the title that drew me to the article. We need some joy these days. I know I do. Some simple joy will do. Small doses. Stopping to watch the birds and butterflies. Watching a small child take her first steps or a young boy’s delight as he masters his first solo ride on a two-wheeler. Watching parents biking with their kids. Watching an ancient episode of “As Time Goes By” with your husband for the millionth time and laughing together just as much as during the first viewing. Listening to whatever music stirs your soul and puts a smile on your face. These are the simple things that can warm our hearts. We just have to stop and let them.
In the ‘seeking joy’ Globe article, author Harvey Schachter lists Bronnie Ware’s the top five regrets people have when dying:
- I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
- I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
- I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
- I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
- I wish that I had let myself be happier.
He suggests that these points are the ones we should prioritize in our lives, instead of worrying about meeting other people’s expectations or being fearful of not being faster, stronger, more popular, more successful, or richer. All we should ever have a fear of missing out on are pretty well captured in the five points above. We don’t want those points to become our regrets as well. Instead, we should take joy in discarding our fear of missing out on all the rest and the pressure we put on ourselves in the name of getting ahead. In the greater scheme of things they don’t matter.
It dawns on me that all five of these points are ones that we can work on and build experiences around while we are staying safe and social distancing. While we are not able to travel where we might otherwise be traveling. While we are at home instead of out at plays or concerts. While we should not be having large in-person gatherings. Thanks to technology, we can reach out to those who are important to us these days without even leaving our homes. We can find the time to pause and think about what’s really important to us. We can remind ourselves of what truly makes us happy, and then make sure that we allow that to happen. We can think about how to carry through with that plan as the world slowly – very slowly – reopens.